First Amendment News

Federal judge critical of key press protection

A federal appeals judge called for the Supreme Court to overturn New York Times v. Sullivan (1964) calling the decision “policy-driven…masquerading as constitutional law.” He said it increased the power of the press to a dangerous level, “One party control of the press and media is a threat to a viable democracy.” (Politico, March 19, 2021, by Josh Gerstein) Judge Laurence Silberman said that the New York Times and the Washington Post reflected the views

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California open government roundup: LA county spits up deputy misconduct files

California’s new police transparency law forced the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to release documents with details of deputy misconduct. The Los Angeles Times sued for the records that identified over 70 deputies, many of whom were promoted or committed more violations after being disciplined. (, March 21, 2021, by Alene Tchekmedyian and Ben Poston of the Los Angeles Times) Public.Resource.Org sued two state agencies to ensure that the public can obtain copies of state

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Biden administration shuts down flow of information on border surge

Reporters are chafing at the restrictions the Biden administration is putting on Border Patrol agents and section chiefs limiting the information they can share. As the administration is dealing with sizeable increase in the number of migrants on the southern border, they are reluctant to give details of the extent of the problem. They are limiting media tours of facilities, denying ride-alongs with border agents and funneling all information queries through Washington for approval. (NBC

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Higher education shrouds data on sexual assaults

Kenny Jacoby, USA TODAY, March 9, 2021, reports that the nation’s colleges and universities employ several stratagems to withhold information about sexual misconduct from the public. The following are four of the stratagems. Schools claim that the federal student privacy rights law allowing schools to inform students of offenders names and offenses was not binding, that they had the leeway to deny information. Schools cited privacy rights in withholding disciplinary records. Schools said they were

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Government transparency lags during pandemic

When The Associated Press asked U.S. governors for records on their decision-making on pandemic shutdowns, they did not receive any records from 20 states. The state governments claim staff are working from home or dealing with crisis management so can’t provide information to the public. Many states have altered open records laws to avoid deadlines. (The Associated Press, March 14, 2021, by David A. Lieb) Observers say that transparency is essential during the pandemic so

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